Saturday, June 15, 2013

My Ten Favorite Summer Herbs

This is a reposting of a post made a few years ago but is still relevant at the beginning of this summer:

Herb Flowers Lemon Verbena
Lemon Verbena. Aloysia citriodora. The lemoniest of all the lemon herbs. This tropical shrub thrives in the summer producing lemon scented leaves that can be used as a tea or instead of lemon in salads and deserts. A good potpourri ingredient, too, and it was the favorite perfume of Scarlett O'Hara's mother.

Basil. Ocimum spp. What is summer without basil? Easy to grow and unsurpassed in the kitchen.

Patchouli. Pogostemon cablin. Loves our heat and humidity as long as you keep it shaded and well watered. Not a culinary herb, but widely used in the perfume industry and its scent will remind you baby boomers of the 60's.

Aloe. Aloe vera. Will tolerate drought but also thrives in our summer rainy season if given good drainage. Despite the fact that it looks like a desert plant, it will frequently bleach out under full sun, so try it in partial shade. A good plant to have around for healing burns and scrapes.

Garlic Chives. Allium tuberosum. A flat-leaved variety of chives that is nearly foolproof. Much easier to grow here than regular chives. Used as you would any chives, they add a subtle hint of garlic.

Culantro. Eryngium foetidum. If you love the flavor of cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) but are frustrated by even the "slow bolt" varieties quickly bolting in the heat, try culantro. It has nearly the exact flavor and will last throughout the summer. Spiny flower heads and spiny but soft leaves make this perennial an unusual looking addition to the garden.

Mexican Tarragon or Mexican Mint Marigold. Tagetes lucida. My favorite culinary herb. True French tarragon in impossibly difficult to grow here, but Mexican tarragon makes a very credible substitute and thrives in our hot, humid summers. Use in béarnaise sauce, tartar sauce, and on fish. Rewards you with pretty yellow flowers, too.

Cuban Oregano. Pletranthus amboinicus. The taste is similar to Greek oregano, but the leaves look nothing alike. Cuban oregano used to be classified as a coleus and, although fleshier, bears a resemblance to those plants including a number of colorful variegations. Give it plenty of room to spread.

Pineapple Sage. Salvia elegans. Most culinary sages struggle in the summer, but pineapple sage, like many ornamental sages, will thrive. It has pretty edible red flowers and leaves with a definite pineapple scent. Use in tea or as a garnish or simply enjoy its scent in the garden.

Lemongrass. Cymbopogon citratus. A nice tall clump of perennial grass with a light lemony flavor. The base of the blade makes a lovely tea and is often called for in Asian cooking.

Recycling Nursery Pots in Lake County Florida

UPDATE: We have moved to an indoor booth at Renningers and can no longer take all nursery plastic for recycling. I am still always interested in plastic nursery pots 4-4.5 inches in diameter either round or square and 1 gallon plastic nursery pots as well. If you have questions call me at 360-3952.

 According to Penn State University College of Agriculture Science, approximately 320 million pounds of nursery pots, trays and cell packs wind up in landfills or hazardous waste incinerators every year. Most recyclers, including Lake County, don’t take nursery plastic products.

Our Rabbit Hill Gardens booth at Renningers Market in Mount Dora will take these pots and trays, sterilize and reuse them which is even more energy efficient than standard recycling. We have set up a recycling bin where items can be dropped off. We are in row 2 number 1 every weekend. We can also take pots during the week if you make arrangements with us. Call Susan at 360-3952 or email